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Proposed California Law Raising Fast-Food Wages Likely Going to a Referendum

Plus, Valentine’s Day events around LA, a guide to eating in Wilmington, and more

Dozens of fast-food cooks and cashiers in Los Angeles and Orange counties join a statewide strike to demand that McDonalds, Starbucks and other chains drop their referendum seeking to overturn AB 257 outside a Starbucks at 3241 N. Figueroa St. in Los Angeles November 15, 2022
Dozens of fast-food cooks and cashiers in Los Angeles and Orange counties join a statewide strike to demand that McDonalds, Starbucks and other chains drop their referendum seeking to overturn AB 257 outside a Starbucks at 3241 N. Figueroa St. in Los Angeles November 15, 2022
Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

California’s AB 257 bill, which would’ve standardized fast-food worker wages and hours, was set to go into effect on January 1, 2023, before a Sacramento judge put it on temporary hold on December 30, 2022. The hold was in response to a lawsuit filed by fast-food industry group Save the Restaurants, which was hoping to prevent the law from going into effect before it could collect 1 million petition signatures, thereby forcing the bill into a statewide referendum. Save the Restaurants, which claims to have collected more than the 1 million required petition signatures, says the law unfairly targets the fast-food industry.

On Friday the Sacramento Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction that prevented the implementation of AB 257. Election authorities must now certify petition signatures collected by Save the Restaurants, a process estimated to be completed between January 27 and March 13. The preliminary injunction and the likely event of a referendum is a win for the powerful Save the Restaurants group, representing companies like Chipotle, In-N-Out, Starbucks, and other chain restaurants.

In the event of a referendum, California voters will decide whether the bill will become law. The bill would’ve set the minimum wage for fast-food workers at $22 an hour, and created a council to set standards for restaurant workers’ hours and working conditions.

Where to eat in Wilmington

L.A. Taco has a handy guide to the city of Wilmington’s dining scene, from the iconic Mexican restaurant Isaac’s Cafe and its incredible burritos to Mariscos Rosarito’s tasty shrimp taco dorados.

LA sushi goes to Chicago

Sushi by Scratch, overseen by chef Phillip Frankland Lee, will be opening another location in Chicago, reports Eater Chicago, with a 17-course omakase menu in River West. Originally founded in Encino, Sushi by Scratch earned a Michelin star for its outlet in Montecito. The Chicago version is set to open on February 8.

Valentine’s Day specials

Holey Grail, the Hawaiian-born doughnut shop that opened recently in Santa Monica, has a number of Valentine’s Day specials from February 9 to 15, including the Miso Honey with Hawaiian black lava salt and Strawberry Fields made with strawberry and matcha.

Also, Love & Salt in Manhattan Beach is doing a special Valentine’s Day “Dinner on the Boardwalk” on February 14 from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. with a la carte specials like Dungeness crab salad and seared diver scallops. Book a table here.

Finally, Lilly Rose, an underground bar at the Wayfarer hotel in Downtown LA, has a special Valentine’s Day boozy high tea from Wednesday to Sunday, 2 p.m to 6 p.m., for $65 per person featuring tea-infused cocktails, whimsical pastries, and savory bites. Reservations, which are required, can be made here.